Hey, I’m Taylor Vogel and this is Now That I’m Not Your Teacher. [cue music] Each week we’ll explore an aspect of adulting that you might have missed in school. Since I used to be a teacher, I’ll structure it in ways that are proven to help you retain information. But since I’m not your teacher anymore, I can approach it in a way that’s honest and sometimes inappropriate for a classroom.
In this week’s unit, we’re going to have so much fun! Because y’all, we’re talking about TAXES! In today’s episode, we’ll figure out which documents we need to have in hand to avoid being caught off guard come tax time.
So, I know what you’re thinking—well, you’re probably thinking two things, so I’m just going to break them down here for you:
Thing number 1 that you’re thinking:
THIS IS WHAT I WISH THEY TAUGHT ME IN SCHOOL. I’m going to throw it out there that you learned problem solving (which applies here), that schools offer personal finance classes and that it sounded boring when you were fifteen, and that tax codes change all the freaking time, so CUT YOUR TEACHERS A BREAK ABOUT TEACHING YOU HOW TO DO YOUR TAXES! They probably don’t know how either. It’s a vicious cycle.
Thing number 2 that you’re thinking:
TAYLOR, THIS EPISODE IS RELEASING IN JANUARY WHY THE EFF ARE YOU STRESSING ME OUT ABOUT MY TAXES?!
Here’s why, my dear listeners. Here’s why.
At the end of the calendar year, your employer has to scramble to compile information about how much they paid you and all of the taxes you’ve already paid on your income, pop it into forms, and send those forms to you. I have had forms arrive the second week of January via post. I have had forms arrive in March via email. They can come at you from all angles, so it’s important to know three things:
Let’s start with Thing 1: What forms you should be looking for. This sucks, because it’s different for everyone. It’s typically a W4 from every place you’ve earned money for that year. You’ll often have something proving that you have health insurance (the need for this has changed throughout my adulthood because of the Affordable Care Act, so who ever knows). You might also have forms documenting how much interest you paid on student loan. If you had a major life change in the past calendar year, like a marriage, divorce, home or car purchase, had a baby, et cetera, you’ll want to keep and/or gather any paperwork related to those life events. Basically, think about anywhere that big money or big change has happened. Make a list of all of these things.
Thing 2: Know how any missing paperwork is going to get to you.
As mentioned, some of the documents for the things just mentioned are already in your care. Hopefully. But for what’s missing, you need to know how to get it. It is OKAY to ask your employer, “Where should I keep an eye out for my tax forms?” If you need a copy of various certificates, search on the internet for how to request a copy for official forms from the place that they happened, like marriage certificates, social security cards for babies, any paperwork you might have misplaced. Know what you need to get, and make a plan to get it.
Thing 3: Know what you’re going to do with the forms when you have them.
I keep important paperwork in a fire-proof safe that stores hanging file folders. I have previously had them in a file organization tote. I also have digital versions of all my important documents that live on not-the-cloud. But if you don’t have a system for storing and organizing papers, JANUARY is the time to do this, so you’re not freaking out come April. But pick a designated place to store these documents as they come in, and it will make the time you sit down to do your taxes less likely to give you a heart attack.
So, you have three things to figure out:
Now That I'm Not Your Teacher by Taylor Vogel is a podcast that offers insight about the real world stuff that teachers often want to say, but either don't have time to or really shouldn't.
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Now That I'm Not Your Teacher is a podcast that helps you tackle the responsibilities of adulthood with the support and structure of a (former) teacher's guidance.